Public actors in new spaces: A case study of digital Malaysia in transnational public deliberation
This article examines the role of new transnational public actors and their influence on public deliberation processes in Malaysia. Malaysia is one of the world’s most social media-connected countries where online platforms greatly influence the Malaysian public sphere. Our study suggests considering digital news portals as specific ‘public actors’ since they enable new political debates in an otherwise fragile national public sphere. While national media are controlled by the state, digital news portals offer not only an alternative news perspective but are a stage for a diversity of voices. Furthermore, they link the Malaysian civic discourse to transnational political debates, such as human rights and ethnic interests. Results from eight in-depth semi-structured interviews with news journalists and editors of traditional media and independent digital news portals provide insights into their perceptions concerning the implications of digital news portals for new aspects of public discourse in Malaysia.
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